Recovering the Much Tortured Book of Revelation

Apocalypse in Springfield

Personal Observations

In retrospect, I think he was amused. An extraordinarily gifted scholar with broad learning, our church rector was ever a gentleman. But he’d never mentioned it one way or another. So when I met dispensationalism ever so many years ago, it seemed natural to ask him if he’d heard of it.

Surprise — he had!

He then explained that dispensationalism rests largely on a misreading of apocalyptic texts. He continued by saying that while this genre is used in the Bible, it is very different. Reading it correctly requires an entirely different set of interpretative rules.

I then asked whether he’d made this any particular study of his own.

Another surprise — he had!

A fine, little book had just been written on topic called, ‘Apocalyptic.’ The publisher asked him to write a few lines to publish on the cover.

Years later, I was browsing a book store when I noticed a little book by Leon Morris. In his day, Morris was deemed by some the most capable NT Greek scholar in the English-speaking world. The title? ‘Apocalyptic.’

Discovering ‘Apocalyptic’

I read the table of contents, the bibliography, fanned it to glance at its headings, and then flipped it over. Among the reviews was this statement by the Rev. Dr. Ronald A. Ward:

“Dr. Morris has established a tradition, and it is here maintained: evidence of wide reading, mastery of the sources, the exercise of an independent, critical judgment, courtesy and fairness towards all. Apocalyptic sets out the main points clearly, and will be a great help — especially to young seminarians.”

At ‘seminarians,’ I recalled another of Dr. Ward’s observations: that day in church narthex, he said ‘the vast majority of theology students graduate from seminary having read not a solitary title on apocalyptic literature.’

He might have said that after a lifetime in pridefully ‘pre-mill/pre-trib’ sects, the vast majority of Independent, Fundamental Baptist pastors had yet to hear John’s message. But again, Dr. Ward was ever the gentleman.

Yet for anyone who cares to read them, these few posts recapitulating one chapter in Richard Bauckham’s book hold more perspective than most prophecy ‘experts’ will gain in a lifetime.

Anyone interested in further reading of apocalyptic literature can find a discussion of it here. Oh, and needless to say, I bought Morris’ book.

But you can download it free.